In our last article for 2020, we advise that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published the final report on its in-depth market investigation into funeral services, confirming its remedies for the sector.
The final report sets out further detail on the remedies, which are intended to support customers when choosing a funeral director or crematorium and to place the sector under greater public scrutiny.
- an obligation for all funeral directors and crematorium operators to disclose prices in a manner that will help customers make more informed decisions;
- that information must be provided in advance of a customer committing to purchase a service so that people know the price they will be charged and the key terms of business – for example if a deposit is required;
- that customers should be made aware of any relevant business, financial and commercial interests of the funeral director, and that certain practices – such as payments which may incentivise hospitals, care homes or hospices to refer customers to a particular funeral director – will be prohibited;
- a recommendation to government to establish an independent inspection and registration regime to monitor the quality of funeral director services as a first step in the establishment of a broader regulatory regime for funeral services.
In its press release published 18 December 2020, it stated that the exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic meant that some of the remedies the CMA might otherwise have pursued, including measures to control prices, could not be developed.
However, the CMA continue to have serious concerns about the sector and one of the conclusions of the report is that it should consider whether a further market investigation reference is needed when conditions are more stable.
In the meantime, the CMA advised that it will continue to monitor the sector using information provided by funeral directors and crematoria detailing their revenues and the volumes of the different services they provide. This will help the CMA ensure that consumers are being fairly treated and decide whether a future market investigation is necessary.
eziFunerals has been watching this matter closely and has published a number of articles on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation into the UK Funeral Services industry.
Since the UK commenced its investigation in 2018, we have also reported on other countries, namely Canada and New Zealand undertaking similar inquiries.
However, despite ACCC Chair Rod Sim, announcing that the funeral industry was on their radar [Committee for Economic Development Australia, 25 February 2020], we still don’t know if and when the ACCC will review the way the funeral industry operates in Australia.
eziFunerals is of the view that most funeral directors in Australia do the right thing, but government regulators still need to act in the interests of consumers, even when there are marketplace reasons not to do so.
eziFunerals supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company. We are not part of any other funeral company.
Our member Funeral Directors operate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Australia wide. Thet are chosen for their knowledge, quality, service, personalisation and experience. They go above and beyond, and will take the time to support the family.
For more information or to make contact with a trusted Independent funeral director, call eziFunerals on 1300 236 402 or visit www.ezifunerals.com.au.